Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Thunderf00t - Ray Comfort videos

I just watched the highly-anticipated Thunderf00t vs. Ray Comfort debate/discussion on YouTube (link to first video here), and I have to say that I'm disappointed in Thunderf00t's performance.

Thunderf00t has made his name by attacking and utterly destroying the bullshit spewed from the mouths of the religious, especially the creationists. I think he showed Ray Comfort's ideas way too much respect, and spent most of his time trying to explain his view to Ray. That's a very difficult thing to do, as Ray's mind can't absorb scientific information.

I definitely approved of some things, such as the way Thunderf00t pressed Ray on the pedophilia thing, but he failed to properly criticise Ray for his explicit avoidance of the question, and just ended up dropping it and moving on. Near the end, he called Ray out for his spreading of bad information about science, and how it was detrimental to the progress of mankind, but I think he didn't follow-up and drive the point home enough.

In general, Thunderf00t did not produce enough offence, spending much of his time on defence. Ray lobbed several easy pitches that Thunderf00t should have hit out of the park. Some of the other things I think Thunderf00t failed to do:

1. Challenge Ray to explain HOW (as in the exact process) his god created the Universe, not just to explain over and over again what made it. Ray likely would have had to admit that he doesn't know exactly, which would have been interesting because he mocked Thunderf00t earlier in the discusssion for not knowing exactly how the Universe came into existence.

2. Challenge Ray to distinguish his creation story from the thousands and thousands of creation stories that have come before it. As in, once you decide that a god exists, how can you assert that this is the one? There's no evidence to suggest his is true.

3. Call Ray on making declarative statements (that he KNOWS how the Universe got here), after telling Thunderf00t that he wasn't allowed to do that.

4. Point out that people in the future may laugh at SOME of the things we think we know now, but that people are ALREADY laughing at Ray, as Ray's view is an old one that has been shown to be completely ridiculous, cannot be supported by reality, and is just plain wrong. Human understanding (the kind supported by evidence) has moved on, and Ray still clings to the old beliefs. I'd also like to point out that the old beliefs were never supported by any experiments or processes that we might now call 'scientific'.

5. Ask Ray why his views are so opposed to what we see in reality, such as age of the Universe and the fossil record utterly excluding creationism.

6. Ask why Ray's god doesn't need to have been created, but the Universe must require a creator. This is the question that badly tripped Ray up in his debate on TV a few years ago with the Rational Response Squad. I posted about it here.

7. Thunderf00t asked Ray what the difference is between his god and an imaginary god that somebody makes up in order to feel good. Ray just completely ignored the question and started preaching. Thunderf00t did bring him back on topic and forced him to answer. Ray said he thinks that because the character of his god was described in a book, that makes it real, while the other is not. Ray then said that he knows the book is real because his god wrote it. Classic circular reasoning, and I can't believe Ray would still be dumb enough to say this kind of thing on camera! Thunderf00t should have pounced here, but didn't.

8. Point out that the presence of a conscience is also explained by the evolution of humans as social creatures, and so Ray can't use it as a proof of his god, because it is mutual to the natural origins hypothesis and the god hypothesis. Proofs must exclude competing hypotheses, as the fossil record excludes creationism.

9. Thunderf00t also dropped other points from conversation, such as when Ray demonstrated a complete lack of any understanding about evolution. He even equated the reproductive incompatibility of newly split-off species with infertility in individuals of a single species. He has no idea what he's talking about! Why didn't Thunderf00t call Ray out for his lack of education on the subjects he debates in public?

I'm thinking I'd much rather have seen Ray vs. Matt Dillahunty of the Atheist Experience. Matt doesn't let those softballs go by without getting clobbered, and would press Ray for answers more than Thunderf00t did. Perhaps Thunderf00t just doesn't know enough about baseball.

After writing the above part of this post, I watched Thunderf00t's video about his reflections on his performance. He said that popular opinion is almost exactly what I wrote, but that he was going for mutual respect and exchange of ideas, not for blood.

Comments? Anybody agree or disagree with me? Do you think Thunderf00t was right to keep it so low-key to maintain civility? Or did you want to see Ray squirm and bleed?


Pinkydead said...

Make sure you check out the video TF made after this series.

In it he acknowledges his lack of skills in this head-to-head forum (of which RC has some experience).

Pinkydead said...

And maybe I should shut up and make sure I read all of your post.

Anonymous said...

When Ray Comfort kept saying "raping a child", I would have asked him "if you witnessed something like that happening and didn't do anything about it, but you were much stronger and better armed than the perpetrator, wouldn't you be immoral? If God can see everything and do anything, he has done exactly that numerous times. How can God be moral then?

Anonymous said...

VERY good point.